World and Nation

Shorts (left)

1,000 gun-rights advocates crowd Boston Common

American flags mixed with Revolutionary War banners that warned, “Don’t Tread on Me.’’ Dire predictions of tyranny spurred cries of defiance from 1,000 people on Boston Common.

Speakers described gun-control lawmakers as wolves who prey on law-abiding lambs with firearms. Legislation to regulate guns was derided as a cynical political maneuver to capitalize on the tragedy at Newtown, Conn. And the specter of mass confiscation of weapons was raised over and over on a chilly afternoon.

“They continue to push their antifreedom and anti-American agenda,’’ said Shaun Sweeney, a leader of It’s Time 2A, a gun-rights group. “It’s time to remind them who’s in charge: we, the people. This is America, and we will not be ruled by a tyrannical government. We will be free, and we will be heard.’’

—Brian Macquarrie, The Boston Globe

Record flooding kills dozens in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES — Record flash floods in Argentina have killed at least 52 people this week, officials said Wednesday, destroying thousands of homes and renewing tensions as politicians blamed one another for the high death toll.

In La Plata, a provincial capital 30 miles from Buenos Aires, 46 people were reported to have died after more than 12 inches of rain fell in just a few hours Tuesday night. The flooding also claimed six lives in Buenos Aires after the heaviest April rainfall in more than a century fell Monday night. More downpours were expected through at least Thursday.

Rescue efforts were focused on finding trapped people to prevent further fatalities, and schools were being used as evacuation centers, he added.

—Jonathan Gilbert, The New York Times

European Central Bank holds rate steady

FRANKFURT, Germany — The head of the European Central Bank on Thursday attempted to pick up the pieces left by the crisis in Cyprus, emphasizing the bank’s determination to shore up the euro, acknowledging clumsy policymaking, and insisting that the troubled island nation provided “no template” for the future.

The ECB left its benchmark interest rate unchanged Thursday at 0.75 percent, while the Bank of England held its rate steady at 0.5 percent. With both central banks’ rates already at record lows, there might be little room to use interest rates as a stimulus. But the eurozone economies, like that of Britain, are stagnant and in need of help wherever they can find it.

—Melissa Eddy, Jack Ewing and Julia Werdigier,

Airline mergers bring stability to the industry

From the 1970s until the early 2000s, as many as 10 major US carriers regularly slugged it out in the skies. But they were also bleeding money, forcing many into bankruptcy — and into mergers with competitors.

But if the latest merger between American Airlines and US Airways is completed this fall as expected, it could usher in a new era for the industry, and for travelers. Just four carriers would control 85 percent of the domestic market, culminating a period of consolidation that analysts say has helped transform a “chronically sick industry’’ into a profitable one.

For many travelers, counterintuitively, the trend could mean more choices as the bigger airlines fly to more major destinations and compete on more domestic routes, instead of concentrating on certain regions of the country, analysts said.

—Katie Johnston, The Boston Globe